In this minimally invasive spine surgery, a small incision is used. The smaller opening means quicker healing time and less pain.

A lumbar laminectomy, or removal of small pieces of bone to relieve pressure on spinal nerves, may be done at the same time as a lumbar disectomy.

Who is a good candidate for this procedure?

Candidates for lumbar microdiscectomy are those with worsening pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the legs from a herniated disc. It is important that each patient is carefully screened by a qualified surgeon to determine the most appropriate treatment.

Anatomy

The lumbar spine, or low back, includes the five largest and strongest vertebrae. Between each vertebra is a gel-filled disc that acts as a shock absorber, providing a cushioning effect to absorb pressure and distribute stress. If this disc is ruptured or not working properly due to degeneration, it can put pressure on the nerves and cause pain. 

When is surgery recommended?

If you have worsening back or leg pain or weakness resulting from a herniated disc that limits your everyday activities, and conservative methods of treatment have failed, you should consider lumbar discectomy.

What is the recovery time?

After a discectomy, most patients go home the same day and typically walking the day of surgery. Most have significantly improved leg symptoms immediately after the surgery. A physical therapy program may be necessary to rehabilitate back and leg muscles. Many people are able to resume work and daily activities within a couple of weeks. Those with physically demanding jobs that include lifting and operating heavy machinery may have to wait longer to return to work.